Goals for Class Today (and our
Analyze memorable characters in order to
inform our discussion about the elements of
Understand the basic elements of
Generate characters, applying understanding
of the elements of characterization
Write a story with well-developed characters
in order to show your understanding of
First, let’s look at things from
a reader’s perspective.
Quick Write (Writer’s Notebook)
Who are some of your favorite characters
from the literature you have read? Why?
let’s talk about what writers
Please use your Writer’s Notebook to
record new information.
Use your journal to note observations about
people in various environments. Try to
capture their personality, their appearance,
their actions, and their mannerisms in
Character boards on Pinterest
Google character profiles
“Your fiction can only be as successful as the
characters who move it and move within it.” –
You want unique characters, characters your
readers will remember.
Aim for individuality instead of typicality, but
Keep characters consistent with their
A Baptist Texan behaves differently than an
A rural schoolboy behaves differently than a
Remember what is appropriate for your character;
a reader can only suspend their disbelief so
Give Characters Purpose
Desire: what does he/she/it want?
Can the reader identify with this
What parts of your character support
this desire? Contrast it?
What would your character be willing
to do to fulfill this desire? (Plot)
Major elements of any character
Thoughts (in 1st person narratives)
Other characters’ interpretations
Intricacies that define character
Defining Gender (Discussion)
What characteristics stereotypically belong to each
What happens when those stereotypes are broken?
Individual Activity – Gender
Please complete on a separate piece of paper.
Write for five minutes in the first person,
assuming the persona of someone of the opposite
gender. You may employ or ignore stereotypes-your choice.
This can be a description, narrative, or a segment of
autobiography, anything in prose form.
The main point is to completely lose yourself and become
another. Remember that you want your characters to be
unique, believable, and relatable.
If you finish early, work on another notebook entry, or try
writing a piece from your own gender.
How did that exercise feel?
What was difficult about it?
How do writers successfully write from
Class Activity - Age
Make a list of some of the ways a writer
can suggest a character’s approximate
age. (Wrinkles and gray hair are the
most obvious. Many are more subtle.)
Make the best use of your powers of
observation. The more precise the
detail, the more convincing it is.
For example, appearance, hobbies, they
technology they use…
Individual Activity – Age
Using the list of details writers can use to
show a character’s age, please write a
paragraph describing a character.
Then, others will guess the age of your
character. (Child, Teenager, Middle-aged,
If you finish early, go back to your WNB.
The names you choose have a strong and
subtle influence on how your readers will
respond to your characters.
Names you give characters should not be
drawn out of a hat, but carefully tested to see
if they “work.”
You may have to change a character’s name
several times before you get it right.
Individual Activity - Worksheet
Name the characters on your worksheet,
keeping in mind that you can plant, with a
name, a clue to their role in your fiction.
Don’t think too much. Trust your gut.
Characters & Desire: Driving Plot
Story Machine Cards
On the yellow cards, list labels associated with
what people/characters do (jobs, activities, etc.)
On the green cards, list actions characters might
These do not have to be associated with the
labels on the other cards. In fact, it would be
better if they were not.
It’s ok to make these mildly odd or strange.
Shuffle the Story Machine
Shuffle each pack of cards SEPERATELY.
Now, ask “Why did Card A do Card B?”
“Why did the fashion model pick up the paper on the
Continue to flip cards until you find a question that’s
worth answering. There are many possible pairings.
Reshuffle if necessary.
The event suggested by the machine may work best
at the beginning of the story, but think of what would
happen if you placed it at the end or in the middle.
Next story challenge:
Write a short story with a well-developed main
character, applying the elements we’ve discussed in
This story should clearly show, without “telling”:
**Be sure to include a name that fits the character’s
actions and personality.
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